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Engaging with the community at Weber School


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Edited transcript

We started off in a small way with the library. We asked a couple of friends/parents to come in and help on a Friday. It started off small and then it became reading tutors and then writing tutors and they kept coming back, we didn’t have to persuade them. They could see that we were happy to have them here and the children responded to them so it just built from there.

"Every week we do little tasks with the children then I find my own children want to do similar tasks at home; it seems to work on both sides. We also carry on from what the teachers are doing in the classroom."
Parent library helper

"Last term I came in to help with the senior schools drama production for one hour a week and working with the students on performance skills. This has lead to me being the parent helping the senior students on the council."
Parent helper

We had some interesting people who were authors, farmers, fishermen, hunters and policemen. We went to the wider community to be part of a letter writing system where the children communicate through letters. We matched the children with people of interest. From then it just grew until the community were requesting the children’s letter writing books. The children enjoy having a real audience for writing. We continue to spread this wider with some students books going to Dannevirke and out to the coast. We have decided to have a celebration at the end and the community will come in and meet the children they have been writing to.

"This has been my fourth time as a writing mentor. I was asked if I would read and reply to children’s writing and encourage the students to improve their writing. Having someone from outside of the school does bring out the best in the children. Some of the children I have written to I am still in contact with. It’s great but they always complain about my writing."
Community writing mentor

"We start writing a story to our writing mentor, what we write about is our own choice. Our mentor writes back to us and then we reply to their response."

I think the children’s writing has got that personal voice back, I think we went down that track where we were looking at genre writing and it had to be an explanation, narrative etc, but now they are really writing from their own voice. The different sorts of writing still come out but I think they genuinely want to write.

"I think it helps me quite a lot because I get to know people and it helps me to keep my writing tidy. When you write to a real person it changes it because you know you are writing for something important."

Then after a science fair we wanted to set up a science activity for the children. When we thought about how we could help them, we decided to approach the community members again to be science mentors. The children are doing independent science investigations with the members of the community to support them.

"While I farmed what was a wetland it turned into a dry land because the willow had become established. So I took Weber School there while I had some experts there and they told us exactly what had gone wrong with our wetland. We have gone about the process of converting it back into a wetland. In a couple of weeks time I have the school coming down to investigate what has happened there and to enhance it. I end up with an awesome wetland, but the school does all the work (laughs)."
Community science mentor

Everything just built on from other projects of involving the community in the school. We’ve always welcomed parents into the school; this is just another means of making them feel welcome. The school just continues to find ways that the parents’ skills can contribute to the school.

"The teachers are very enthusiastic; we are lucky to have a very enthusiastic principal with great ideas. It is an honour to be asked to help and the encouragement that the school provides is rewarding."

community engagement

Published on: 23 Oct 2009